It’s been reported recently that Leeds Rhinos are making a move for Batley Bulldogs fullback Luke Hooley.
The rumour was shut down by Hooley himself when asked by Serious About Rugby League but Rugby League Live have today stated that the Rhinos are preparing to make an offer to Hooley who is formerly of Wakefield Trinity.
The rumour has been met with a mix of excitement and surprise. Leeds have three first team fullbacks on their payroll at present with Jack Walker on loan at Hull FC whilst Zak Hardaker and Richie Myler seemingly take turns at the back for the Rhinos both enjoying massive success.
With many people hoping that Hardaker stays beyond 2022 especially given his form and the likelihood that either him or Walker will remain at Headingley next year alongside certainty Richie Myler, it seems strange to speculate that another fullback could be Leeds bound.
However, a move for Hooley makes perfect sense to me.
The every man
Hooley came through the ranks as a winger at Wakefield but evolved into a fullback prior to making the move to Batley where he has excelled becoming one of the Championship’s best players despite not starring for the top two.
This versatility makes him ideal for the Rhinos. He can be another option on the wing with Tom Briscoe set to leave whilst further cover at fullback for Leeds, a vital position in any team.
Furthermore, by being able to cover fullback gives more freedom to play Myler in the halves which has been something Leeds have been dependent on recently.
Equally, Hooley’s own skillset would make him a decent option in the halves himself if Leeds were desperate whilst he may even be a decent option at centre.
Salary cap problem
It would also be a great help in terms of the salary cap for Leeds. The Rhinos are spent up to the cap right now so by moving on a high earner like Walker or Hardaker and bringing in a young man like Luke Hooley who would likely be on a lower wage would certainly help create more space on the cap for next year.
Furthermore, Hooley absolutely fits the profile of player Smith has identified he wants at the club.
He’s a young versatile player with massive potential moving forward and could even develop into Leeds’ first choice fullback especially with Hardaker and Myler towards the ends of their careers.
Over for Olpherts
If Hooley is being signed as a winger to replace Tom Briscoe, it surely means the move for Derrell Olpherts is off the table.
That is unless David Fusitu’a is on his way out though I maintain that is unlikely.
Not a damning blow for Hardaker
Equally, if Hooley is being brought in as cover for wing as well as other positions, it means that it is not the end of the road for Hardaker at Leeds.